Ukrainian Orthodox Christians from across the country joined thousands of other Americans in demonstrating their pro-life convictions during the annual March for Life Jan. 24, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Joining the Orthodox hierarchs and Christians from across the country, Archbishop Daniel, who was among the marchers and led the representatives of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, said: “Year after year, we march with thousands of other pro-life Americans. And every year I long for the day when we won’t have to do so. I pray for the day when the most vulnerable are protected and women and children, born and unborn, are valued such that marching for life will seem as unnecessary as marching for gravity.”
The March for Life has been held every year since 1974, one year after the Supreme Court legalized abortion throughout the country in the Roe v. Wade decision Jan. 22, 1973.
President Donald Trump became the first President to ever address the March for Life in person. At the 47th annual March for Life, he spoke for just over 13 minutes to a very enthusiastic crowd gathered on the National Mall.
The President began by calling it a “profound honor” to attend, saying, “We’re here for a very simple reason: to defend the right of every child, born and unborn, to fulfill their God-given potential. For 47 years, Americans of all backgrounds have traveled from across the country to stand for life, and today, as President of the United States, I am truly proud to stand with you….”
President Trump pointed out that the pro-life movement is growing younger — and increasingly female, as well. And importantly, he noted that the pro-life movement is not motivated by hatred, but “by pure, unselfish love.”
Young people are the heart of the March for Life, and it’s your generation that is making America the pro-family, pro-life nation. The life movement is led by strong women, amazing faith leaders, and brave students who carry on the legacy of pioneers before us who fought to raise the conscience of our nation and uphold the rights of our citizens.
You embrace mothers with care and compassion. You are powered by prayer and motivated by pure, unselfish love….
“Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God,” he said. “Together we must protect cherish and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life. When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul. One life changes the world….”
President Trump was joined on stage by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), March for Life president Jeanne Mancini, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), and others.
Other speakers at the rally included political figures from both Republican and Democratic parties: the First Lady of Louisiana, Donna Bel Edwards; House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.); Louisiana State Sen. Katrina Jackson (D); U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.); and Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List and co-chair of the Trump 2020 campaign’s pro-life coalition.
Following the speeches from the rally’s main stage, the march proper began, progressing up the National Mall towards the Supreme Court.
Carrying the giant March for Life banner at the front of the crowd is regarded as a privilege, bestowed on a different group each year.
The theme of the 2020 march, “Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman,” was chosen to mark the centennial anniversary of women’s right to vote in the United States with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. The march’s theme was chosen to counter the narrative put forward by abortion supporters that the practice “empowers” women.
The Orthodox hierarchs in attendance, representing Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (Bishop Apostolos of Medeia), Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (Archbishop Daniel), Orthodox Church of America (Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop Melchisedek, Archbishop Michael, Archbishop David, Bishop Daniel, Bishop Paul), and Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America (Bishop Thomas) led a Service of Supplication for an end to Abortion prior to the formal joining of Orthodox representatives in the annual March for Life.
Seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak, Subdeacon Yaroslav Bilohan, Subdeacon Myroslav Mykytyuk, Seminarians Andrii Vatrych and Maksym Zhuravchyk) joined the choir of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary (OCA) in chanting responses to the Supplication Service and signing of sacred hymns throughout the March.
Speaking to the representatives of several parishes of the UOC of the USA, Vladyka Daniel said the march "provides an opportunity to support a holistic, biblical view from birth all the way to the last seasons of life."
While local parishes may wonder how they can contribute to the pro-life cause, "coming out here gives a tangible sense" so Christians can return to their local churches and "be re-motivated to stay true" and support the sanctity of human life.
Linda Hnatow, parishioner of Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Wilmington, DE, said, "every human life is important."
"I think [the march] is a really important thing to be a part of and wanted to show my support.’”
Rev. Fr. Oleg Kravchenko, recent graduate of St. Sophia Seminary and pastor of Holy Assumption Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Northampton, PA, said of his first time at the march, "I think it's important to me to be able to go back to my parishioners and say, 'This is what is happening in our world around us. This is how people are trying to influence their elected officials.'
"And hopefully in the future maybe we can have some more Ukrainian Orthodox Christians come up here and participate,… It is important for us to participate in the March for Life and to help increase awareness among Orthodox Christians about the March for Life and motivate them to participate in it.”
"If you look around the march, it's heavily Catholic, and it historically has been," Archbishop Daniel said. "And so I think it's important for us to join with groups like the Catholic Church in a situation like this where we can say, 'Listen, we're on board. We shall work together... to try to make a difference and try to stem the tide of abortion."
After the rally, the crowd marched on Constitution Avenue from a site on the national mall to the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill.
Photos by Subdeacon Yaroslav Bilohan and Subdeacon Mykola Zomchak